Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:
  3. Jax says:

    Interesting thought experiment at Gizmodo on what would happen if the internet went down globally.

  4. Michael Cain says:

    Off to donate blood this morning. For 45 years (and umpteen gallons) they’ve been telling me that science is on the verge of making this unnecessary. Forget flying cars; responding to climate change is going to rule out using energy at the rate those require. They promised me synthetic blood. Why isn’t this a priority?

  5. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    That’s one reason I follow science news less often than I used to. Every new development tended to be trumpeted, and then just as quickly forgotten.

    So, yeah, what happened to synthetic blood, carbon nanotubes, graphene, buckyballs, (relatively)high-temperature superconductors, and a host of other developments I no longer even remember?

    In the meantime, who ordered social networks, spyware apps (but I repeat myself), deep fakes, Uber, and their ilk?

  6. Teve says:
  7. Teve says:

    @Michael Cain: Economics. Evolution has been improving the real stuff for skillions of years, type and cross tests are easy and cheap (it’s only slightly more complicated than mixing the blood together and seeing if it clumps) and millions of people like you and me are willing to give it away for free.

  8. Teve says:


    That’s one reason I follow science news less often than I used to.

    I too quit following science news a long time ago, before I’d even finished my physics degree. a good fraction of the results published in the big impact journals are actually just wrong, 99% of most technological possibilities can’t be commercialized for half a dozen reasons, a new technology that is successfully commercialized usually takes something like 40 years from lab to market dominance, and in the end, and the reason I stopped watching TED talks, disgust with this fantasy that technology will solve our problems, when the problems usually aren’t technological, they’re political.

  9. Teve says:
  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    No truer comment was ever said…

    Trump was “really upset” to read reports about (Tom) Barrack’s role in allegedly making it easy for some foreigners and others to try to spend money to get access to Trump and his inner circle and whether some of the inauguration money was misspent, according to a senior administration official.
    The president was really surprised to read all about the inauguration and who was trying to buy access and how, because the president doesn’t get any of that money,” said the official.

    Not that it was wrong, but because he didn’t get a cut.

  11. CSK says:

    @Teve: That was excruciating.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    That’s one reason I follow science news less often than I used to. Every new development tended to be trumpeted, and then just as quickly forgotten.

    When I contemplate visions of the future I usually rely on Things to Come to make my day.

  13. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump

    Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!
    11:52 AM · Aug 19, 2019·

  14. Tyrell says:

    @Michael Cain: I used to give regularly when the Red Cross came around with their bus, or if they sent a request. My type is O-, a type they can give to anyone. But I have not seen the bus or been contacted in years. They would give out t-shirts, prizes, movie tickets, and nice snacks.
    From your experience, do you think that giving blood makes a person healthier? I have heard that.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain: I started donating blood at 17 for a fellow student who had hemophilia in the family. I donated regularly for the next 10+ years. Then I went overseas to equatorialafrica during the AIDS epidemic and couldn’t donate for five years. At this point I discovered that Hemochromatosis runs in my family and sure enough, I had it (with numbers in the 3000’s for those who know what that means). It turns out the best treatment is bloodletting and those 10+ years probably saved my life.

    I now donate the week I become eligible and am still quite alive at 58

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: There’s a LOT of graphene work going on….my company is setting up to do some interesting experiments involving buckyballs and graphene.

    Nanotubes are getting used for their material properties. (See certain Samsung displays) Nanotubes are too stretchy to use in a lot of the originally conceived suppositions, unfortunately.

    And the nanoparticle-based cancer drugs have been steadily marching their way through trials. I suspect that after they get FDA approval you’ll never hear about the nanoparticle aspect ever again.

    Nanotechnology: yet another area of engineering where after you can do it, it’s not considered nanotech any more….

  17. CSK says:

    @Teve: Now he’s tweeting that he has a 51% approval rating, but he doesn’t say from whom.

  18. Teve says:

    @CSK: to get 51%, Rasmussen would have to do a poll exclusively of “people who have made ‘why can’t white people say the n word if black people can say it?’ arguments in the last 3 weeks” 😀

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: What’s really sad is that he can’t even get significantly over 51% of those people.

  20. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Tyrell: I donated for 30 years. I finally quit due to personal pique (not something I’m proud of), because I got so damned tired of having to recite every place in the world I’d visited over the years, so they could be sure I wasn’t carrying some dread tropical ailment.

  21. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Granted graphene was discovered under a decade ago, buckyballs and nano tubes are far older than that, yet look up the applications listed in Wikipedia.

    I’m glad someone’s finding practical uses for these things. My point, however, is that each discovery is hailed as revolutionary (and, qua discoveries, some of them are), which will change the world forever and very, very soon.

    I remember reading an article on Discover magazine in 1985 or 86 about buckyballs. I think so far they have been found useful in science fiction as a plot device, and maybe also to periodically rouse interest in Buckminster Fuller.

    To be fair, I also recall articles about string theory from around that time, and that field has turned into a real quagmire. So…

    Mostly I’m critical of science reporting, even when it is of good quality (Discover in the 80s and 90s was mostly good; Scientific American is still rather good). I still keep up with it. But when I read about new discoveries, I remind myself the odds are 90% or better nothing will come off this in my lifetime.

    Seriously, do you know how many articles are published each year about better batteries? Lighter, longer lifetimes, more cycles, more charge, less prone to spontaneous combustion, etc.? And yet, lithium ion it still is.

  22. Michael Cain says:


    That’s one reason I follow science news less often than I used to. Every new development tended to be trumpeted, and then just as quickly forgotten.

    During one stretch of my tech career I was the guy in charge of applied technology forecasts (giant corporation, tech-dependent but didn’t create tech on our own other than some peculiar testing capabilities). Trying to predict how/if/when something will jump from “lab” to “product” is hard.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Trying to predict how/if/when something will jump from “lab” to “product” is hard.

    Not to teach you your job, but I think making predictions is easy.

    Getting the predictions right more than chance would account for, that is hard 😉

    Seriously, the thing about a discovery in the lab is that we know very little about it, and predicting what will come off it is more like guessing and wishing. there’s also the matter of lab conditions being controlled, while nature is not. And that things that work on a small scale may not work on a large one. Or that making one nanotube a few microns long may be easy, but one a centimeter in length is impossible or too expensive. And so on.

    So, discoveries may be interesting to read about. But when the piece gets to possible applications, I simply don’t pay much attention.

  24. Michael Cain says:

    I’m reminded of a situation I was in once, debating when a small special-purpose piece of software could be ready. The conversation finally reached the point where the sarcastic voice that lives in the back of my head (and at work I usually kept locked down tight) got control of my mouth and said, “Well, if it doesn’t have to produce correct answers, you can have it tomorrow.”

    I have been wondering a bit if something like that happened with Boeing’s 737 MAX software group, and someone in charge responded with, “Great! Do it that way.”

  25. Jen says:

    I needed this today. Hillary’s response to Donald’s unhinged tweet about some…weird conspiracy that Google somehow manipulated votes in 2016.

  26. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I have been wondering a bit if something like that happened with Boeing’s 737 MAX software group, and someone in charge responded with, “Great! Do it that way.”

    I don’t think so. it may be that the angle of attack sensors were simply not up to the task. Quite a few MAX have been delivered and used for months, before there was a single accident. In fact, it was only the second crash that meant there was a problem with the MAX.

    What I wonder is how much of the software running aircraft today can be controlled by the pilots, and how much will operate independently. More important, how aware are pilots about such things.

  27. Teve says:

    @Kathy: that’s a good example of how long it takes, the first lithium ion battery was proposed in 1973, they were first built experimentally in the 80s, first commercialized in the early 90s, and then didn’t really become commonplace until about 2010.

    Nearly 40 years from laboratory to commonplace, and that’s only because about a dozen breakthroughs happened after that first unworkable proposal.

  28. Teve says:

    I’m at page 400 of Shadow Divers. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but how many times is this book going to kick me in the teeth???

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: It used to drive me crazy too but nowadays, epending on the center you go to, they may keep a record and all you have to do is acknowledge or update it.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: The worst is Medical discoveries. The only ones that propagate with any speed are new uses for old drugs that are still on the market. Everything else takes anywhere from 10-20 years to become even middling commonplace. And even then there is a huge amount of inertia. I was once with a surgeon who was doing a thoracic procedure on a myasthenia gravis (sp?) patient in such a way that they didn’t have to massively break the youngsters ribs. Afterward I asked why this hadn’t become the norm. He made a few attempts at explanation and then finally threw up his hands in frustration and said, “Because we have to wait for all the old thoracic surgeons to die off!”

  31. Michael Cain says:

    Because we have to wait for all the old thoracic surgeons to die off!

    Ah, like Max Planck’s famous “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

    When I was in graduate school, a professor told me, “Half of everything you know will be obsolete in five years. The key to a successful career is recognizing which half.”

  32. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: Oh my! Some conservatives are very offended by this information, including alleged “intellectual heavyweights”…the poor dears…

  33. Kathy says:


    The only ones that propagate with any speed are new uses for old drugs that are still on the market.

    Sometimes. I’ve heard as late as 5 years ago many doctors insist on treating peptic ulcers with beta blockers and diet rather than antibiotics.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I think education beats medicine all hollow. While I was in graduate school, a fellow student did research into change as adoption of new technology/thinking/practice/etc. IIRC, when change was defined as 51% adoption, the number of years it took, by industry, were
    Agriculture–5 years
    Industry–10 years
    Non-manufacturing business–15 years
    Medicine–25 years
    Education–35 years
    I may not have the numbers exactly right anymore, but the order stayed with me. It may have been medicine 35 and education 65, but they were the hardest to change and education significantly more than the others.

    I remember from my own childhood schooling that when I was in high school (class of 1970), one of my English teachers introduced something called “the writing process” (brainstorming, planning, drafting, revising, editing, etc.). In 1992 while I was finishing graduate school, most of my professors were advocating teaching students to use the writing process and there were packaged curricula that they were trying to encourage school districts to adopt. In about 2000 IIRC, I saw the first computerized word processing systems that were using mapping as a tool for brainstorming, but when I came back from Korea in 2015, I encountered teachers who–when I asked about whether I should use writing process techniques when I worked in their (Language Arts) classes replied, “if you want to but I don’t teach that.”

    (And that doesn’t even include the ongoing debate (since I was in teacher college in ’86) about whether there is more than one set of practices that might make up “the” writing process.)

  35. DrDaveT says:


    I don’t think so. it may be that the angle of attack sensors were simply not up to the task.

    No no no. It’s not about the sensors. It’s about the algorithms. Always.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Ouch!

  37. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: the 1619 project is a considerable work of historical journalism, and the people screeching about it are your more racially hostile wingnuts, so it’s going on my reading list.

  38. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: It’s interesting how these particular conservatives are being so defensive, as if the 1619 Project is talking about them…well, Jamelle Bouie’s piece does ably illustrate the link between the modern GOP and the slaveholding political class in the Antebellum South…funny how some things never change…

  39. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: it’s late and I’m too tired to get into details, but you’re right about that, and if you look at the small number of completely illogical ‘rebuttals’ they’re repeating it just looks so stupid and dysfunctional that it’s incredible.

  40. Teve says:

    people are criticizing Larry Kudlow for being obviously drunk at 9 in the morning on TV a couple of days ago, but if I worked for Trump and had to appear in public defending him I’d wake up still drunk everyday and I’d start my day with a fresh strong pot of Kahlua with a shot of espresso.

  41. Jax says:

    @Teve: Well, when you think about it, and look back at allllll the video….he’s realizing he’s a hack who is suddenly “in charge of stuff”. His name will go down in history. Before Trump, he was just an “entertainer economist on Fox News”.

  42. Tyrell says:

    Unusual cloud of fire seen over Lake Michigan.

    Magnetic field continues to move.

  43. Teve says:
  44. Jax says:
  45. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: What happened to “Manifest Destiny” and the “settlement” of the west?
    I have not read the NYT articles. I have not picked up a NYT since the Carter era.
    So I will reserve any judgments. I hope this not a piece that is trying to pull a martial arts move on the south. The southern people did not own the slave ships. Most of the southern people did not own huge plantations.
    The northern factories had ties and an interest in the south: “In fact, a wing of the Whigs, the Cotton Whigs, cooperated with southerners because they had a mutual economic interest in keeping the Union together… Until the early 1850s, some Cotton Whigs actively maintained the ties with the agrarian South led by slave-owning planters and publicly denounced the abolitionists.” (Encyclopedia).

  46. Kathy says:



    1) How very Soviet, no?

    2) Good think crops require tending only during the summer.

  47. 95 South says:

    @Teve: Way to break out of the bubble.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: Although it wasn’t common, it also wasn’t unusual for students in Seattle where I lived to go to Vashon Island to pick strawberries. One of my cousins did it one summer some place up in Skagit County near where he lived in Arlington, and it was common for students from the high school to work for two or three hours before school started (8 am in those days) cutting asparagus in Sunnyside, and other little towns in the Yakima Valley. But those seasons were only a few weeks long in those days. While I was in the wholesale produce business, we still had local strawberries for roughly 3 weeks and Washington asparagus was about a 30 or 40 day season.

    My cousin never did it again after the first year. But he did cut asparagus in Sunnyside–his dad was the Superintendent of Schools in Sunnyside; there was image to uphold.

  49. Mister Bluster says:

    Corn Detasseling
    Detasseling work is usually performed by teens; as such, it serves as a typical rite of passage in rural areas of the Corn Belt of the Midwestern United States. For many teens in these areas it is their first job. Exact starting dates depend on the specific area of the country and the growing conditions of any given year. The detasseling “season” typically lasts from two to four weeks with work days varying from just a few hours to over 10 hours depending on the growing season. Wages for detasselers vary greatly; some detasselers earn minimum wage while others earn over $12.00 per hour. Individual wages depend on the seed corn company, the detasseling contractor, the experience of the detasseler and even the individual field conditions such as the number of plants per acre, percentage of the tassels pulled by a detasseling machine or the height of the corn.
    The manner by which wages are determined can also vary greatly between detasseling contractors. Some pay a straight hourly wage, others pay on a piece rates basis where detasselers are paid an amount for every row, panel or acre detasseled. Other contractors use a rating system to determine detasseler wages for a given day.

    While I never detasseled corn I spent more time than I care to remember in midwestern cornfields
    working on buried telephone cable. There is no air on a hot day and the edges of the leaves on the cornstalks will slice you up like a razor blade.
    I did watch as school busses full of high school students were let loose on a corn field and either walked the rows or rode the machines to do the work. Many days from dawn to dusk.
    They earned every cent of whatever they were paid.